Nuff Nuff

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Black Saturday - Royal Commission – Some Sense until tomorrow?

John Brumby has come out and said that banning building in fire-prone areas is not feasible. Hooray for someone seeing the light of day. The only problem is that I think this may be all politician speak and nothing more.

The Shire of Murrindindi which was one of the hardest hit areas is predominantly a Working Class area – Which although the seat of McEwan is currently held by the Liberal Party,The last election was very close and saw the seat contested for 7 votes.

John Brumby is quoted as saying "If you say in Victoria that you can't build in any area that's heavily forested you'd be removing close to a million Victorians from their homes - that's the reality.'' [1]

Where do 1,000,000 people go? 90% of them would be unable to afford to move, as I discussed here Black Saturday - Royal Commission Experts The fact that John Brumby is not only referring to the area of Marysville, but state wide, from Bendigo to Ballarat, shows that someone has seen the light.

I can’t make political comment on areas that I don’t know and to tell you honest truth, can’t be bothered checking out. (Yeah I know lazy) – I don’t get paid for this – unless you want to donate!!!!!!!!!

John Brumby is also quoted as saying "This is all about, I think, living with the risk of fire and we are a dry continent, we're also a very beautiful continent, our eucalypt forests are stunning places and they're beautiful places to live.”

Which is 100% correct, since the day that Australia was settled; there has been a battle for water, some years are good, some years better and some years very poor. At other times there is so much water, we are literally swimming in it, while standing on what was previously dry land!

John Brumby is also quoted as saying "So this is about making places as safe as possible while recognising the beautiful amenity that we've got in so many treed areas across the state."

So, let’s make the state safe, if that is the case, get off your backside and nominate the areas deemed to safe, places that the population can evacuate to if they choose to. Not leave these people and communities hanging around waiting for you to make a decision.

It’s been 12 months since the fires of Black Saturday, and most fire-prone areas still remain without ‘safer places’

Drop the fancy terminology also, either we are in danger or we are not. The old fires index signs, run and operated by the CFA – clearly showed at 100kph what the state of the area was you were entering – now we are presented with a tiny little sign that shows NOTHING. CFA signage

The Government needs to stop talking the talk that people think they want to hear and start actioning some of these so-called good ideas. Kick the bureaucracy in the backside and start doing SOMETHING.

The sooner the government stops meddling and bringing false hope and starts actually doing something and bringing real hope, will be the day that people and townships start pulling and putting themselves together again.

[1] The Australian February 16th 2010

Black Saturday, Royal Commission - Experts, Messperts, - What do they know ‘perts?

I have a vested interest in this topic for many reasons, some of which are contained in this blog. Others are too personal to be written about in the public domain.

The last 24-48 hours has seen so-called experts claiming that places like Marysville (notice they ONLY cite Marysville as the example) should not ever be re-built. My first bone of contention is that Marysville is, was and will not be the only place ever threatened/destroyed by fire.

Other places also affected:-Kinglake, Flowerdale, Bendigo, Narbethong, Strathewen, Steeles Creek, Yarra Glen, Humevale, Wadong, St Andrews, Callignee, Taggerty, Koornalla, Beechworth, Long Gully, Maiden Gully, Redesdale,

I’ve made comment before and I’ll make it again, places closer to the CBD receive more support from the media and social services than those places ‘out of the way’ I know for a fact that several families in the township of Strathewen ONLY see 1 person on a daily basis. Nobody else bothers, because it is too hard and they are forgotten. People in Marysville and no doubt other places are in the same boat, yet Kinglake and Flowerdale get all the accolades for re-building, and fighting etc.

This fire was perhaps a once in 100 year event. Yes lives were lost. Yes, people’s lives have irrevocably been changed. Yes, children have been affected by what they saw. But this trauma has been occurring since man became self-aware. At some point in life we all suffer something that changes us forever; some people suffer more than once.

Experts, like Roz Hansen have been quoted as saying “I was disappointed and somewhat alarmed about allowing those communities to go back and resettle. And I think we've really got our hands full in terms of guaranteeing them their safety in the future, unless we change the major considerations around those areas in terms of bushland setting," [1]

Another ‘expert’, Michael Buxton is quoted as saying “a large scale government buy back should be considered to move people away from areas of unacceptably high bushfire risk.” [2]

These people probably live in the yuppyland, sipping on skinny soy decaf latte with no thought for those that live in these areas, that work in these areas and that put the food on the tables that they eat from. Without people in rural areas, there would be no food, and if this was the case, the Greenies would be screaming blue murder about the emissions caused by the people driving to and from the place of employment because there is no public transport. Isn’t that the rage these days – work, live and play in your local area and source your food from the same area?

People choose to live in these areas and work in these areas, because they like the people, they like the environment, they like the lifestyle. They like having their horses nearby. They like hearing the birds in the morning. They realize the danger, they accept the danger. If a person cannot accept the danger then they shouldn’t live there – that I do agree with. There are dangers living in the suburbs, from assaults, to burglaries, to not knowing your neighbour. In the country there are different dangers, which more often than not, pose less danger to the person and just means you have to be more self-aware.

How dare these so-called experts claim that perhaps for the greater good places (like Marysville) should not be rebuilt.

Other areas in exactly the same position are not mentioned, not even touched upon. Is it only ONCE the devastation occurs that the spotlight is turned on these townships? Had the prescribed back burning been done, then perhaps things would not be so bad. Perhaps if the communication between the fire agencies had been better, things would have been different, perhaps if the people in charge had more experience things would be different. There is little purpose in looking back now, only forward. To dwell on the past means you live in the past.

You can’t change what happened, but neither can you destroy further the lives of the people affected. People need to stop jumping to solutions that won’t work, either in the past, present or the future. Instead offer solutions, like safe havens, like ovals, with water supplies that can never run out, open spaces. Bring back the fire sirens and don’t let the Sunday tourists turn them off. I grew up in Marysville and if the siren sounded, you headed to the oval. The siren could be heard in the valley and all except for Sunday at 10am – you went to the oval, you knew something was happening. You could be out on the horse; you could be at a friend’s place. IF that siren sounded, something was wrong.

Bring back the sirens, bring back the safe havens, stop trying to destroy townships, livelihoods and what people know and accept.


[1] The Age 16th February 2010

[2] The Australian 15th February 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Marysville - Steavensons Falls - Black Saturday

This group of four photos was taken by a 12 year old. There was no input from an adult - as has previously been seeen - he just takes photos. This is the area adjacent to and in the Steavensons Falls Reserve, access to the public was not permitted at the time. He accompanied an adult on an inspection tour


Notice the trees in the both these photos? - Very little foliage and unlikely these trees will grow back.




The photo below - shows the total devastion and the dead trees that have been cooked from the inside out and never to re-grow




As the sign says - NO ENTRY - with these tracks and roads shut, there is little hope for tourism to return. With much hard work - bus tours are now returning to Steavensons Falls - but it will be many years, possibly decades before this area is anywhere near what it used to be.


Friday, February 12, 2010

The threat of Fire in the Dandenongs, following Black Saturday Bushfires.

The media today has come out and said that Mt Dandenong and surrounding villages have three times the tree canopy that Marysville had prior to the Black Saturday Fires in February 2009.

Without a doubt, I personally believe this to be right – The problem is that you can’t go chopping every tree down in the Dandenongs. The Dandenongs are renowned for their trees, beauty and tranquility.

The government has decreed that on high risk fire days that people evacuate. The problem is where to? No viable solutions have been offered. For anyone, anywhere.

It is claimed that for the Dandenongs alone, it could take 6-12 hours for an evacuation to be completed. These are dreadful figures, and if I lived in the Dandenongs; I would be scared for my life. The problem stems back to what to do with your animals, your birds, your horses, your dogs. Where can you take them? What do you do with them?

Do you evacuate under the assumption there will be a fire and leave the animals, or do you stay and worry about it when the fire is almost at your doorstep? Neither is a satisfactory solution. But what can you do?

I know for a fact, that I could afford to lose my house, my car, my earthly possessions, but not my dog. My dog on a normal day keeps me sane and I’m sure for others they feel the same way. Mentally I think if I was to lose my dog, I would lose the plot.

Monday night the 9th February 2009, I was at the evacuation centre in Whittlesea and the number of people clinging to the only thing they had left was devastating, yet that thing was their dog. People had done their upmost to ensure the safety of their dog/s. These dogs knew that they had their owners to thank for living and they behaved accordingly.

The question still stands, where are people meant to evacuate to on days of high fire danger? What happens to the animals?

I’ve covered various scenarios within this blog, of both the human evacuation and the problem of animals and yet NOT one person, government body or agency has offered any answers/solutions.

I would like your thoughts as to what you think might be a solution to this problem.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

364.25 days ago - Black Saturday 7th February 2009

I was trying to sleep and couldn’t – I realised what I was planning to do was possibly suicide and I could possibly end up dead – but I HAD TO DO it.

I left Whittlesea at 2.30am in the morning and got to Marysville at daybreak – I don’t remember very much of the trip – other than what I have recalled in My Story – I drove with eyes ONLY for the road, I didn’t have a choice. The dangers were many, the sights from my car window too scary to comprehend.

The smell is something that will never leave my mind. Driving over electricity wires is scary even when you know that the power is off – it’s unnatural.

Then seeing some animals alive and looking fine and to see others either dead or near dead – was heart-wrenching.

To see cars and trucks ‘parked’ in the middle of the roads was strange – like an apocalyptic movie, where you know the people have gone mad and just run off into the distance chasing some figment of their imagination. That was what it felt like.

To see burnt out shells of vehicles – you dared not look, just in case. Power poles cut at the knees, where the fire had burnt them through and they fell across the roads.

I did what I did because I am me.

Some people have lost everything they have loved for as long as they can remember – their loss must be enormous. Some people have come forward and have shared their stories; I congratulate them on being so brave. By sharing their stories, they are trying to make sure you don’t suffer the way they have. I can’t thank them enough; the pain of retelling must tear at their already broken hearts. I hope if I was in their shoes – I’d have the guts to do the same.

May the next 12 months be better than the past 12 months and may every year that passes be better than the last.

On that note:- thank-you to all the people on the ground fighting these fires, thank-you to those people who after the fact, stepped up the mark and assisted with everything from toilet paper to cars and accommodation. You did a wonderful thing.

Let us hope that we never again suffer as we did on February 7th 2009.

Let us be vigilant of our surroundings and of people who may pose a threat to our homes, our families, our lives. If you see someone acting suspiciously please make a note of anything and if you feel it necessary report it to 000. Lives, maybe your life could be a risk for not doing so.

Take care out and remember Mother Nature talks to each and every one of us – perhaps you might need to turn the music down a little and listen once in a while.

In memory - Black Saturday, 7th February 2009



I was reading a book, as I often do and came across this – I thought it fitting.


He had no home, no roots, no family. Absolutely nothing! No family photographs, no family bible that would have recorded the dates of the family lives – the day they were born, the day they were wed and when and how they all died. Everything had been destroyed. Everything. All he had was pictures in his head. That was what the war had done to him. Others had fared just as badly, and some much worse, he chided himself.
Exert from “Cockney Courage” Elizabeth Waite, 1999.

The similarities are too close to real life, living in London in the Blitz or in Victoria in 2009. Very very similar.

To those we lost – we won’t forget

To those that survived – we can’t forget

To those that helped – thank-you from the bottom of my heart

Let us not forget – to be prepared is to survive, to be ready to flee is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of wanting to live.

Do what you have to do as a family – don’t be swayed by the voice of others

Let us not forget Black Saturday 2009.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Untitled

I feel like the crap – the tears have started – god knows how others are managing.

Even if I was in a room of 20 people – It would still only be me.

So many people perished state-wide, I don’t blame anyone, not the authorities, not the people. People did what they thought was right, the authorities did what they could with the information they had at hand.

The only thing that saved our house was 15min, 15’ wind change, something as simple as that.

We could see the fire taking off into the hills. You knew it was going to be bad- but you couldn’t think of that – you just had to worry about you.

‘My Story’ Here, shows some of the emotion, but not all of it – words can’t explain the horse still standing, watching you come down the hill – needing water which you can’t provide.

Words can’t explain the trees collapsing and wondering if one has your name on it. Words can’t explain the car, almost untouched by flame, with the back packed up with treasured possessions, the keys in the ignition and you know the family has perished.

Words can’t explain the pain of asking for help and being told we are too busy you haven’t been affected. You feel abandoned,

But you know what the worst thing is? – People don’t believe the truth. If the truth hit them in the head with a pick-ax, they still wouldn’t believe.

People you have to wake up – this could happen to YOU tomorrow, or the next day or the next day.

Did you know that the 15min 15’ wind change is the only thing that saved the outskirts of Melbourne?

Did you know that there was talk of closing the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne at Bell Street, Preston, to stop all north-bound traffic. Did you know that CFA were prepared to sacrifice many houses in order to save Melbourne?

Don’t think it won’t happen – because one day it just might.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Summary of My Story - A True Story

The only thing in this post in chronological order is "My Story" The remaining posts are just there - they are part of the story, of My Story - but they don't fit in anywhere specifically - so they are just left at the bottom.

This has not been an easy story to share - and what you see is really only the bare bones - the whole story - with the nuts and bolts won't ever be told - there are too many nightmares - like the car with the keys or the horse who survived only to die due to dehydration, because I couldn't get him water. They are just some of the details that have been omitted.

My Story Part 1

My Story Part 2

My Story Part 3

My Story Part 4

My Story Part 5

My Story Part 6

My Story Part 7

My Story Part 8

My Story Part 9

My Story Part 10

My Story Part 11

The Battle is not won, even when you save your house.

The Received ONLY TXT messages of Black Saturday and Beyond

12 Months Almost

Smoke Haze over Melbourne

My Father Said................

364.25 days ago. Black Saturday

Flash Back of the Worst Kind

You Can Feel a Sense of De-Ja-Vu in the Air

A Forgotten Victim of Black Saturday

The Marysville Cookbook that I gave to the community, which you, the public can now buy

Before and After - The Difference 110 days makes

The RECEIVED ONLY TXT Messages of Black Saturday

08.02.09 06.11hrs
Good to hear about your parents. From the Vic Roads Man, Number Declined

08.02.09 07.29hrs
Thanks for message. A (W’s daughter)

08.02.09 11.59hrs
Appreciate message: unable to contact W

09.02.09 10.03hrs
Hope mum and dad OK. My brother lost his home in Kinglake. GL

09.02.09 13.07hrs
Hey hope you and you family is okay. If you need anything let me know. I’m here to help

12.02.09 18.21hrs
Hi H, thank-you for getting D&M to visit R. She appreciates the visits so much.

12.02.09 18.34hrs
Thank-you so much from all our family. Our community will get through this because of the generosity of people such as yourself and your family. Keep me posted and good luck always.

And the First EVER TXT message sent out by Fire Authorities
02.03.09 15.21hrs
Extreme weather in Vic expect Mon night & Tues. High wind & fire risk. Listen to Local ABC Radio for emergency updates. Do not reply to this message

There were many more messages (32 in all) but they were obviously in reply to messages I sent out and they would make little sense because they are out of context.

That period of time for about 3 months was a blur – little existed in my life except work and struggling to cope with what I saw and what I did and the difference I supposedly made. I can’t believe that one person (me) made any difference, but apparently I did.

Stay safe this summer and remember don’t take life for granted – it has more value than money.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Victoria Lives at Risk #6

Why do I have to repeat and repeat and repeat myself?

Today was a mildly warm day - the night is cooling down - although still quite warm.

Tonight at 21.22hrs (9.22pm) the CFA site went down - or more specifically the OSOM system appears to be affected.

This effects the incidents, and the warnings if any are current.

The feed back I have been getting from other sources are :-
The Twitter Feed appears to be working
The DSE feed and site appears to be working correctly.

The CFA site was out (to the best of my knowledge from 21.22hrs - 22.04hrs) and the there are problems with the mapping component that has continued past 22.38hrs (10.38pm. The Google API Mapping Key is invalid and I believe it is retrieving data from the DSE site currently

I don't like being the bad person - I don't like outing the good guys, but the problem is NOT WITH THE men and women on the ground - it is with the people who administer this site - it is with the people PAID to ensure that the Victorian Public have somewhere to turn in an emergency.

Bushfires are a battle, they are battle for life and death, not just of humans, but animals and livelihoods. Businesses have and will be destroyed by bushfires. Lives have been lost due to lack of information or no information or god forbid WRONG information.

The officials are to blame, not the men and women who defend your life, your property, your livelihoods.

We must make our voices heard over the politics, over the government protectionism of public liability, we need multiple sources of information and not information that is hidden from al except a few who understand how these things work.

“Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron says people should never rely only on the CFA website."

So tell me Mr Cameron – what do we rely on? Or do we leave our house, our business or animals to the hand of God?

Victorians have a right to know - not be kept in the dark like mushrooms. We have a right to defend if capable/able

16.12.09 - Outage No. 1
16.12.09 Excuses for Outage
30.12.09 - Outage No. 2
01.01.10 - Outage No. 3
09.01.10 - Outage No. 4
10.01.10 - Outage No. 5

To contact Mr Bob Cameron - please use his his website located Here

The Text messages of Black Saturday

For some reason - unknown to me - I have just checked my phone and found the saved messages I received that day and days afterward from people.

I'm going to publish them - of course without identifying information - but it might show people's feelings of the day - and that any news was good news until the inevitable phone.

The TEXT messages of Black Saturday